Hamburg strengthens ties with Singapore, with Ralf Schmidt being appointed as honorary HamburgAmbassador by Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz in the booming Asian commercial hub. Ralf Schmidt has been living in Singapore for 15 years. As General Manager Asia, Schmidt is responsible for the Asian business of HSH Nordbank.
Hamburg & Singapore: Many Similarities
Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, managing director of HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation: “Hamburg and Singapore have much in common. Both are city-states and major hubs of trade and shipping. Also in science and technology, they share similar interests. Both Hamburg and Singapore are currently pursuing policies to become smart cities, and can thus learn from each other.” Ralf Schmidt adds: “Singapore and Hamburg are both dear to my heart. There are many opportunities for co-operation, with many similarities in the economic structure, and the challenge to implement as city-states a growth strategy on limited space. Aircraft industry, healthcare and education are, for example, areas in which I would like to get involved in their mutual interest.”
In Asia and Singapore, Ralf Schmidt will be able to benefit from his outstanding network when working as HamburgAmbassador. Schmidt started his professional career in 1989 as an apprentice of Hamburg’s Vereins- und Westbank, before studying business administration at the University of Hamburg. In the year 2000, the banker left Hamburg for Singapore to set up a branch of Hamburg’s former state bank “Hamburgische Landesbank“. In 2012, Schmidt was appointed as General Manager Asia of HSH Nordbank. Before leaving Hamburg, Ralf Schmidt was politically active in various position and member of the district parliament of Bergedorf.
The economic relations of Hamburg and Singapore are marked by the port industry. “For the Port of Hamburg, Singapore is an important transhipment for the distribution of goods in the surrounding regions of Southeast Asia for the Port of Hamburg. With a throughput of 592,000 TEUs (20-foot standard containers) in 2014, Singapore is Hamburg’s third most important trade partner in seaborne container traffic. From Singapore, mainly food and beverages, chemical products and products originating from agriculture reach us. Hamburg, on the other hand, mainly exports many chemical products, food and beverages and wood products, including paper and print, explains Axel Mattern, Member of the Executive Board of the registered association Port of Hamburg Marketing e.V.
Since summer 2015, the Hamburg entrepreneur Dirk Lorenz-Meyer’s has been the new Honorary Consul of the Republic of Singapore. Thus, the city-state has been represented for the first time since 2008 with an office in northern Germany. The office is headed by Dirk Lorenz-Meyer, the son of former Consul Dieter Lorenz-Meyer, who passed away of 2008. His family has been maintaining close ties with Southeast Asia for centuries. The family enterprise Behn Meyer Group dates back to 1840 when two young men from Hamburg, Theodor August Behn and Valentin Lorenz Meyer, established Behn, Meyer & Co. in Singapore.
In 1857, Arnold Otto Meyer, consul in Singapore, set up a company of the same name in Hamburg. Core business of the firm is the marketing and distribution of fertilisers and agrochemical products such as fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. Moreover, Behn Meyer produces rubber chemicals for the European market in its Asian plants. Other business areas include food ingredients, chemicals and polymers such as plastic. Behn Meyer employs some 1,000 staff in 14 countries, where they are working in 28 offices, 38 warehouses, and several manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and Europe.
The city-state of Singapore in the south of the Malay Peninsula is often regarded as a role model for the future of Asia. Earlier than other countries, Singapore managed to connect to the western world and even moves ahead in the fast lane.
Many projects in the metropolis are service as models for urban centres even in our latitudes. On an area slightly smaller area than Hamburg, five million people live in Singapore. 7,650 people crowd on one square kilometre. Thus challenged, Singapore set new standards in sustainable and innovative technology-based urban development. This is especially true for traffic control, as well as environmental protection, energy efficiency, and the creation of green areas and recreational spaces. Digital technologies opened up new perspectives and accelerated the development of Singapore into a smart city. Today, the city serves as a test laboratory for projects, of which Hamburg can learn a lot.
Bilateral Relations between Singapore and Germany
The bilateral relations between Singapore and Germany are very good. They are based on close co-operation in bilateral and multilateral level. Singapore’s constructive role in the regional organization ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), its stability and its regional significance make it an important partner for German foreign policy. In the promotion of political relations between the European and Asian countries, Singapore is highly esteemed as motor and promoter. In November 2015, Germany and Singapore celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Singapore is Germany’s most important economic partner in the area of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Institutions such as the Singaporean-German Chamber of Commerce (SGC; since July 2004), the German Centre Singapore (opened in 1995), the German Singapore Business Forum (GSBF; since its founding in 1994 nine meetings, last meeting in May 2014 in Munich), the Economic Development Organizations Economic Development Board (EDB) and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) with offices in Frankfurt / Main reflect the fact that economic activities are intense in both directions. Currently, more than 1,450 German companies are registered in Singapore. According to Statistics Singapore, exports to Germany amounted to 4.06 billion euro in 2014, while imports from Germany at 8.02 billion euro. Thus, Germany was Singapore’s largest trading partner in the EU once again in 2014.
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